Reuters reports that a set of polio vaccines that were supposed to arrive in the tribal area were banned by a Pakistani Taliban leader. Around 161,000 children from the tribal belt of North Waziristan were supposed to be vaccinated these days, but the Taliban commander stopped the immunization for fear of CIA espionage.
The recent news related to U.S. drone strikes made the Pakistani Taliban leader ban the polio vaccines that were expected to enter the tribal belt of North Waziristan. The decision was adopted by a council representing various jihadi factions because the leaders fear that CIA might be using the polio vaccination as a pretext for espionage. The same technique was used when a Pakistani doctor named Shakil Afridi helped Americans track Osama bin Laden.
Hafiz Gul Bahadur, the Pakistani Taliban leader who adopted this measure said polio vaccination will be stopped until the CIA puts an end to its drone campaign. Medical authorities were disturbed by the announcement that the commander released over the weekend because they have made many efforts to bring polio vaccines in the area. Pakistan is one of the countries where the polio rate is very big. Last year, the world’s highest rate was registered in this area as there were 198 new cases.
UNICEF was one of the organizations that worked for the procurement of the polio vaccines. According to the declaration of their spokesperson, 161,000 children under the age of 5 were supposed to receive immunization starting on Wednesday. Health workers think it is extremely important to bring polio vaccines to the tribal belt because the decades of conflict and poverty have transformed the area into the largest reservoir of the disease.
The cancellation of the program has raised a lot of discontent among Western health workers. They claim that CIA is responsible for the fact that the Taliban leader no longer trusts them. In their opinion, the polio vaccines wouldn’t have been banned if the CIA hadn’t recruited the medical personnel.